About Us

“I think what I would want our legacy to be is the place that really saved comics.” – Jenny Robb, Curator

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum houses the world’s largest collection of comic strip tear sheets and clippings. It also is home to unique, original art and manuscript materials. In this video, Jenny Robb gives a brief overview of the museum.

Mission Statement

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum’s primary mission is to develop a comprehensive research collection documenting American printed cartoon art, to organize the materials, and to provide access to these resources. The scope of the collection includes:

  • editorial cartoons
  • comic strips
  • comic books
  • graphic novels
  • sports cartoons
  • magazine cartoons

Animation materials are not, in general, collected.

History

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum was established in 1977 in two converted classrooms in the Journalism Building with the founding gift of artwork and papers of alumnus Milton Caniff. Its collections of original art and manuscripts have been built primarily through gifts-in-kind.

The library has had several former names: Milton Caniff Reading Room, 1977; Library for Communication and Graphic Arts; Cartoon, Graphic, and Photographic Arts Research Library; Cartoon Research Library, 1989; Cartoon Library and Museum, July 2009; and the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, September 2009.

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum is now the largest and most comprehensive academic research facility documenting printed cartoon art. Administratively it is part of Ohio State University Libraries.

Holdings

Current holdings include more than:

  • 300,000 original cartoons
  • 45,000 books
  • 67,000 serials (including comic books)
  • 3,000 linear feet of manuscript materials
  • 2.5 million comic strip clippings and newspaper pages

Collections

  • Unique collections of original art and manuscript materials including among others, the Nick Anderson Collection, the Jim Borgman Collection, the Eldon Dedini Collection, the Edwina Dumm Collection, the Will Eisner Collection, the Woody Gelman Collection of Winsor McCay cartoons, the Walt Kelly Collection, the Toni Mendez Collection, and the Bill Watterson Deposit Collection
  • International Museum of Cartoon Art Collection containing more than 200,000 original cartoons. The collection was acquired in the summer of 2008 from the museum which was founded by Beetle Bailey creator Mort Walker
  • San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection, acquired from its director, Bill Blackbeard, in 1998. This gives the library the largest collection of newspaper comic strip tear sheets and clippings in the world. Search the on-line finding aid at Guide to the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection
  • Jay Kennedy Collection of more than 9,500 underground comic books, one of the most extensive in the world
  • Archival professional records including the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, National Cartoonists Society, Newspaper Features Council, and Cartoonists Guild
  • Biographical registry of cartoonists containing files for more than 5,000 cartoonists and clipping files organized by cartoon-related subjects
  • Extensive collection of Japanese comics known as manga. Visit the Ohio State University Libraries manga site.

Programs

Our library promotes the study and appreciation of cartoon art by sponsoring a variety of educational programs and publications including exhibitions, catalogs, lectures, seminars, panel discussions, workshops and conferences. The Festival of Cartoon Art, held triennially since 1983, is a multi-day event that celebrates and promotes the craft of cartooning and attracts participants from around the world.

Access

Because this is an archival facility, items from its collections are available only on site. None may be borrowed for personal use outside the reading room and the library’s stacks are closed to browsers. Tours of the stacks are available by appointment.  Researchers should contact cartoons@osu.edu to schedule an appointment and are strongly encouraged to supply a list of materials in advance. No photography (including videotaping) is permitted in the library without prior permission.

  • Search the Ohio State University Libraries on-line catalog of published works and manuscript collections at the Ohio State University Library.
  • A searchable database of portions of the The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum’s collection of original art is available at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum Art Database.
  • Finding aids for some of the collections, including the Cartoon Subject and Topic Files, are located under Collections
  • Images of some of the collection are available for viewing at the Cartoon Image Database.
  • Educational resources relating to the history of printed cartoons and digital albums of the library’s treasures are accessible on our website.

Staff

JENNY ROBB, Curator and Associate Professor
WENDY PFLUG, Associate Curator and Assistant Professor
CAITLIN McGURK, Engagement Coordinator
SUSAN LIBERATOR, Assistant Curator
MARILYN SCOTT, Assistant Curator
Office Associate